I didn’t own a cell phone until I was a senior in college. My boyfriend at the time bought it for me and presented it with the explanation: “I can never track you down!” My response? “That’s the idea.”
I didn’t start texting until I was nearly 25. I figured if you couldn’t say it, you shouldn’t say it. I hesitated on MySpace and Facebook. I never even had a Friendster. The only thing I ever managed to maintain online before the last few years was an epically ridiculous Livejournal and a fansite for the Barenaked Ladies.
I like the idea of being able to be unreachable, even if just for short bursts of time. Nobody needs to know where I am or what I’m doing. Trust me, I’m actually incredibly boring. So why, why, why for the love of all that is holy did I succumb to Twitter?
For those living under an Internet rock, Twitter is a micro-blogging website. Think of Facebook, but with only status updates (with a character limit of 140). If you don’t know what Facebook is, then go back to your AOL chatroom and come back to me when you’ve caught up with the rest of the class.
To be honest, I joined Twitter as a favor to my mom. Her employer had asked her to start Twittering, and she was really nervous about the idea of letting people know what she was doing at any given moment. I joined the Twitterverse to make her feel less nervous about it. Because I am a good daughter (Side note: my mom has yet to even use her Twitter).
At first, I found the idea about as favourable as that first cell phone. What the hell do I “microblog” about? The majority of Tweets seem to have to do with “OMG best Sammich EVAR” or “gtg to prty drinkz awesome”. I began following a few people, seeking out the shining stars of the Twitterverse (aka Wil Wheaton). After that came a few real life friends, then some webcomic artists, then a few bands. Before I knew it, I was a tweeting machine. I both feared and revered the Fail Whale (Twitter’s way of telling us we’ve Tweeting too loud and too far). I was actually…..enjoying myself. And I felt a little dirty about it.
But, to be honest, I also find it incredibly useful. At NEWW, it was practically indispensable to finding a rideshare, a hotel room, a place to eat, and where the cool kids were hanging out. I have been able to advertise this blog in a way I never imagined, and interact with readers. I have gotten freelance jobs through it. About the only thing I haven’t gotten via Twitter is a steak and some cheap nookie. But it’s only been a few months.
Now, don’t get me wrong, a majority of Twitter does seem to be about sandwiches and random thoughts. But for those of us who spend inordinate amounts of time in front of a computer screen for our careers, it is a valuable networking tool.
The trick is, I think, to not let it get out of hand. Pimp your blog, ask people to come to your rock show, tell people about that awesome anal sex joke you heard last night, but maybe don’t spill your deepest darkest secrets. A little common sense goes a long way on the Internet. Always remember: If you post it, people can read it. And don’t ever let the impulse to document your every move stop you from disappearing for a few hours (or days). Sometimes it’s nice not to be found, even for those of us who live for the googlereads.
Oh, and keep your sense of humor about it. It’s just the Internet, after all. In that spirit, here are some awesomely funny videos about Twitter :